Most of Africa’s largest cities are loaded with solid waste; the useless or unwanted solid materials generated from everyday human activities, be it residential, industrial or commercial. Poor waste management is one of the things that plague a good number of big cities like Onitsha, Douala, Accra, Kampala, Addis Ababa, just to name a few.
The authorities in place, with their lax and nonchalant attitudes, do not enforce the laws put in place to regulate such improper actions. For example, the ban placed on the use of plastic bags seems to have no consequences as there are more plastic bags in the markets than ever before, with “non biodegradable” printed on some of them. One is forced to wonder what happens to these non biodegradable bags when they are out of use.
Also, the companies responsible for waste management such as HYSACAM, (a French acronym meaning Hygiene and Health in Cameroon), with subsidiaries in other countries like Chad, Niger, Benin and Liberia, does not collect waste and empty their trash cans as often as they should in some areas, leading to massive waste piles.
Notwithstanding, other African countries have found a solution to their garbage problems leading to clean and spotless cities, such as Nairobi, Cape Town, Dar es Salaam and Kigali. Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, often lauded as “Africa’s cleanest city, put in place “Umuganda”, loosely translated as “coming together for a common purpose” to clean up their public space.
What can be done with the already piled up garbage?
Nowadays, garbage is an asset to some countries like Sweden, China, Ethiopia. These countries have Waste-to-Energy and Biogas production plants, where garbage is used to produce electricity and biogas. This is a way of turning a bad situation into good, as these Waste-to-Energy plants not only clean the environment but provide a solution to power outages affecting many cities in Africa.
It is worth noting that the biogas and electricity produced by these Waste-to-Energy plants, is a healthy and cheaper option for Africans who live on tight budgets. It is eco-friendly, prevents soil and water pollution and generates organic fertilizers for communities whose source of livelihood is agriculture and subsistent farming. The overall health and living conditions of many Africans will improve if other nations put that garbage to use.